CONCORD – A pair of Cox Mill runners were the fastest individuals at Tuesday’s Cabarrus County Cross Country Championships at Frank Liske Park, but it was the Hickory Ridge girls who walked away with the team title for the third year in a row.
The Chargers’ Jessie Connick won the individual title with a time of 21 minutes, 12 seconds, and teammate Kaitlyn Jones was next in 21:33.
A pair of Hickory Ridge Ragin’ Bulls followed them: Elizabeth Ireland (21:49) and last year’s individual title winner, Lauren Richards (22:06), who came in fourth.
As a result, Hickory Ridge (35 points) won the team crown by a narrow margin over Cox Mill (39).
Central Cabarrus (71) was third, followed by Northwest Cabarrus (85) in fourth, and Mount Pleasant and Jay M. Robinson (135) tied for fifth place.
Hickory Ridge coach Jennifer Schmidt got to celebrate with her boys and girls teams at the post-race medal ceremony, as the Bulls also took the boys crown.
Showered in water from the team cooler, a dripping Schmidt shed tears of joy after her team won the girls title by a slim margin.
“It’s a big deal, Schmidt said. “We graduated two girls last year and two boys that meant a lot to the team. So having them leave and then having runners come up and take their place and follow that means a lot to us.”
Third-place runner Ireland, only a freshman, is one of those that filled those experienced shoes from a year ago.
“Our freshman class is amazing,” Schmidt said. “I can’t say enough about them.
“I was shocked,” Schmidt said later of winning, “because I was pretty sure Cox Mill had won the girls. It means the world to me. I know for Lauren, it was pretty special for her. Being the captain, she helped get some of these girls to where they are. (And) that’s amazing.”
Rounding out the top individuals, Northwest Cabarrus’ Grace Siemon (22:54) was fifth, followed by Hickory Ridge’s Isabella Saliba (22:59), Concord’s Allyson Halbach (23:06), Hickory Ridge’s Kya Bonds (23:28), and Central Cabarrus’ Taylor Hanson (23:29) and Savannah Dickason (23:32).
Excluding Concord, these teams will meet again this Saturday at the Wendy’s Invitational at McAlpine Greenway Park in Charlotte.